Token-Republican Jim Nobles showed up at Drinking Liberally last night, as promised, breathalyzer in hand. Now all we needed was a
victim test subject to conduct our scientific experiment to see exactly how many drinks it takes to score a .17 blood-alcohol level — what the Urban Dictionary will one day define as “Mike McGavick Drunk.”
Sandeep’s years at The Stranger certainly left him well trained for the event, but he was too sleight of frame to approximate a 35-year-old McGavick, whereas as Nigel, at 240 pounds, was definitely too big. As for me, I’m too much of a pussy; I don’t think I could get through a six pack with throwing up.
Then in walked a newbie, Patrick: about 30-years-old, 185 pounds, and brashly proud of his Irish heritage (“I could drink McGavick under the table,” he bragged when I challenged him to donate his liver to science.) Best of all, he arrived with his own designated driver, his wife Tara. We’d found our man.
Patrick raised his first Mac & Jack’s at 8:25, and determinedly worked his way through four pints over the next hour with nothing but a hummus plate and some roasted garlic to buffer the alcohol. “I’m definitely drunk… I shouldn’t be driving” he told us at 9:25, before he courageously knocked back another pint.
At 9:35, five beers and an hour and ten minutes into the experiment, Patrick blew a 0.125, well past the legal limit of 0.08, but far short of McGavick’s state title.
At this point, I should take a moment to talk about what constitutes “a beer” or “a drink.” In my earlier posts on McGavick’s DUI I pointed out that all the online blood-alcohol calculators and charts suggest that it would take 8 to 9 drinks over the course of any hour for a 200 pound man to reach a 0.17, but of course, different beers have different alcohol content. For example, a Pyramid Snowcap might pack a 7.0% alcohol wallop, while it may surprise you to learn that at 4.0% Guinness has one of the lowest alcohol contents of any beer.
McGavick claims to have been drinking beer that fateful night, and we can be pretty damn sure that back in circa 1993 DC, he wasn’t drinking hopped up microbrews. Corona and Rolling Rock were pretty hip with the East Coast in crowd back then, both of which come in at 4.5% alcohol, while imports like Becks, Heineken and St. Pauli Girl top out at about 5.0% (as do standards like Coors, Budweiser and Miller.) So for the sake of comparison, let’s just assume that McGavick was drinking a 5.0% beer.
Patrick on the other hand was drinking a heftier, 5.5% alcohol Mac & Jack’s… at least he was until 9:48 when half-way through a sixth pint he switched to whiskey because he was getting too full.
10:05, halfway through a generous double Jack & Coke, Tara notes that her hubby of four months was “gettin’ loud,” and at 10:12, 1 hour and 37 minutes, and 7.5 drinks into the evening, Patrick blew a disappointing 0.14.
Patrick was clearly having trouble keeping up with his liver’s alcohol-processing capacity. Squinty-eyed, he started to question the test results
“I’m drunk… I’m so drunk you don’t even know,” Patrick slurred. “If I got in your car right now, I’d hit the car in front and behind me. FURTHERMORE, we need to look at how far he drove, because I couldn’t even make it a block.”
But drunk as he clearly was, he still wasn’t Mike McGavick Drunk, because he still had the common sense to know that he shouldn’t drive.
Still, nothing gets an Irishman’s Irish up like a challenge unmet and a drink undrunk, and so Patrick soldiered through yet another Jack & Coke. Finally, at 10:55, two hours, 30 minutes, and 8.5 drinks into our experiment, Patrick blew a .216.
Considering that McGavick blew his .17 nearly 90 minutes after being pulled over, we considered Patrick’s goal to have been met. Plus, we started to feel sorry for him, so we called the experiment a success.
Adjusting for alcohol content, I’d say Patrick’s 5 and a half nearly-topped-off pints of Mac & Jack’s was approximately equivalent to about 7 12-ounce bottles of Heineken, giving Patrick a McGavick-adjusted total of 10 drinks over 2 and a half hours. But what makes McGavick’s accomplishment all the more impressive is that he maintained his BAC over several hours, and still managed to blow a .17 at least an hour and half after he stopped drinking.
But however you want to compare the two’s alcohol consumption, there is one thing our little experiment proved beyond a shadow of a doubt: .17 is stinking drunk… well beyond the level of intoxication that even a drunk man would consider to be within the safe driving range. McGavick had been quoted as saying that he knew he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel the minute he was pulled over. But I’m pretty sure he knew he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel the minute he got behind it.
As for me, after my usual three Manny’s (5.5%) over a typical two and a half hour evening, I blew a .039%, less than half the legal limit. So there.